Step Away from the Phone: Texting Makes Us Overshare

People more likely to disclose sensitive information when texting

Trying to make a good impression with a new colleague or friend? Here’s what you shouldn’t do: discuss anything personal over text messaging. That probably sounds like no-brainer advice since, duh, anything you say can be saved for all eternity, and will be used against you if (a) you ever piss off the recipient or (b) you happen to get famous enough for someone to profit from your ill-typed words.

But according to a new study, people are not as closed-lipped (or should we say thrifty-fingered?) as they ought to be when texting. In fact, people are actually more likely to disclose sensitive information via text than over the phone. Are you getting this, gossip reporters?

Researchers recruited a group of 600 unwitting iPhone users and asked them, either by phone or text, questions like, how often they binge drink or exercise. Turns out, people are much more honest when they can text it in.

The scientists speculate this may have to do with the time pressure associated with a phone interview; you’re expected to respond promptly, so people give “good enough” answers that estimate the truth. But with texting, you have more time to respond, and can be more thoughtful, and therefore more precise, with your answers. And I would have thought that having extra time to reflect on your response would make you less truthful about your dirty little secrets.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go text John Mayer to find out how he really feels about his oversharing past.

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